The Chicago Cubs will finish up the regular season at Wrigley Field this evening. For the second consecutive year, it’s just a temporary goodbye as the Cubs are playoff bound again.
The expectations for this Chicago Cubs team were, well, astronomical. It was more than the fans with the optimistic talk. The baseball world was having a hard time NOT jumping on the Cubs’ bandwagon. And the Cubs came out of the gate with 107-year anger. Joe Maddon told them to “embrace the target”. They left no question to that. The target was fully embraced.
The hot start to the season brought comparisons to other great teams. Only three teams had won more games in their first 35 than the Cubs. The Yankees in 1939 (28) and the 1928 Yankees (28), as well as the 1984 Tigers (30). All three went on to win the World Series. The Cubs were projected then to win 105 games if they played at a .607 clip.
Then came the June/July “swoon”. The Cubs were coming back down to earth. Some claimed it was the Cubs, what did we expect? Even die-hard fans began to worry. Had they gotten their hopes too high? Were the Cubs about to crush their dreams again?
When the Cubs lost to the Mariners on July 30, the lead in the Central was down to 6 1/2 games. The Cubs were 21 games over .500 at 62-41, but there was some concern throughout Cubs Nation. Exit all past versions of the Cubs. Enter the 2016 version. They’ve gone 36-15 since, heading into the final home game against who better than the Cardinals. Even as the best team in baseball, they’re getting a chance to play “spoiler” against their rival.
Knocking the Cardinals from their perch
With the Cardinals battling for one of the Wild Card spots (1/2 game back for the 2nd spot), the Cubs could help to again oust the Cards from the playoffs–this time before they even make it. That’s not something the Cubs are concerned with, but the fans would, of course, enjoy it.
I’ve seen many people asking who they would like to see the Cubs play in the NLDS. Mets? Giants? Cardinals? The fact is, the Cubs are capable of beating any of them. The Mets are a shell of the team they were last year. The Giants are holding on to their “even year” magic, but barely. And the Cards? The Cubs hope to see them finish with a Kolten Wong faceplant in the outfield.
This season didn’t hold as many memorable moments for the Cubs. At least not in the sense of the dramatics. But there were plenty of amazing moments. Javier Baez and his Mother’s Day walk-off. Then there was Jon Lester‘s walk-off bunt to beat the Mariners. My favorite (because I was there), Jason Heyward‘s walk-off winner against the Giants–and he tied the game earlier to extend it. And finally the surprise “year long retirement” for David Ross. A tribute video as well as several gifts for a great leader and mentor for these young Cubs.
Win or lose, the Cubs will thank the fans tonight at 1060 W. Addison. They’ll wave. They’ll toss baseballs into the crowd. And they’ll bask in the great moments they’ve enjoyed at Wrigley with the fans this season. But on October 7 they’ll return to Wrigley Field, with just one more memorable moment to make.